Using a Power of Attorney

Using a Power of Attorney

Last week the wife of a man who applied for Medicaid (Title 19), called and said that a bank manager refused to honor the Power of Attorney, from her husband to her. She needs the bank records to get her husband eligible. The manager claimed that the notary signing the acknowledgment at the end of the power of attorney did not put a notary “number” next to his name, and the power of attorney was not valid. This is completely wrong. A certain percentage of people working in banks, insurance companies or other financial institutions are completely uninformed on the laws governing powers of attorney.

In Connecticut, a power of attorney is valid if signed in front of two witnesses, who also sign as witnesses. Then the notary or other authorized person, such as an attorney, must sign an acknowledgment that the person making the power of attorney did so in front of the notary or the attorney. Typically the notary will sign a statement that reads, “On (date) John Doe, signer of the forgoing instrument, personally appeared before me and acknowledged the execution to be his free act and deed”, followed by the words “Notary Public, My commission expires on(date).” The notaries signature does not require that a stamped seal be used, although most notaries do stamp with a seal. Attorneys in Connecticut can also sign the acknowledgment by signing their name and using the title “Commissioner of the Superior Court”.

The bank manager who said the power of attorney was not valid told the customer that the notary had to put a “Notary Number” next to his name. There is no such requirement in Connecticut. And to repeat, it does not require a stamped seal.
Time was crucial to get the bank records for the Department of Social Services, or
nursing care would not be paid by Medicaid, and it could have cost his wife as much as $16,000 per month for nursing home care if the records weren’t provided. So, a call was made to the manager who claimed the bank’s legal department told him a “Notary Number” was needed. It was explained to him that there was no such requirement in Connecticut and that if the customer lost $16,000 a month that the manager and the bank would be sued. The next day the bank agreed the power of attorney was valid and the records would be made available.

Another problem is that banks may erroneously claim the power of attorney “is too old.” This is wrong. It is good until the person dies or revokes it. Often a way around this erroneous claim is to have a certification attached to an old power of attorney stating that “The Power of Attorney was valid when made, that the person making it is still alive and that the power of attorney has not been revoked.” This often comes up with investment companies or insurance companies.

A final tidbit is that all powers of attorney under the Connecticut Short Form Power of attorney law are durable, which means that they are valid, even if the maker has become incapable.
Attorneys Stephen O. and Halley C. Allaire are partners in the law firm of Allaire Elder Law.
Attorneys Stephen O. and Halley C. Allaire are members of the National Academy of Elder Law. Attorneys, Inc.
Allaire Elder Law is a highly respected, and highly rated law firm with offices in Bristol, CT.
We can be contacted by phone at (860) 259-1500 or by email.

If you have a question, send a written note to us and we may use your question in a future column.

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